Life in the Lagoons
Along the Honduran coast, lakes, marshes, beaches, and lagoons create a watery habitat for many species of birds and other creatures. Mangroves dominate this tropical landscape. The trees can be found either on coastal plains with lagoons and flooded grasslands or as part of a diverse, humid tropical forest. Many species of fish, including the mountain mullet and bobo mullet, take shelter in mangrove-filled lagoons and lakes. These fish are nearly extinct in this ecoregion.
The Honduran Caribbean coastline runs east to west between Nicaragua and Guatemala. The coastal climate is tropical, with annual rainfall averaging between 80 and 120 inches (2,000 and 3,000 mm) a year, most of which is received during the rainy season (June to December). The region averages four intense tropical storms and two hurricanes per decade. Although mangroves dominate the coastline, savanna, sedge prairie, pine forests, rain forest, and palm thickets can be found farther inland.
Patient visitors might be able to spot a host of wading birds in this ecoregion’s waterways. Green-backed herons, boat-billed herons, snowy egrets, great egrets, wood storks, and rufescent tiger herons are just a few of the species that share the mangroves with parrots, ducks, cormorants, and teals. Other birds that frequently visit mangrove communities include the scarlet, green, and military macaws, green kingfishers, plovers, sandpipers, and hummingbirds. In the trees you might hear the ruckus caused by black-mantled howler monkeys, Geoffrey’s spider monkeys, and white-faced capuchins as they call to each other. Ocelots and giant anteaters are quieter as they search for their meals. Reptiles include the boa constrictor, American crocodile, brown caiman, loggerhead turtle, green turtle, and iguana.
Cause for Concern
Threats to this ecoregion include agricultural expansion, burning of forests to increase pasture areas, drainage of coastal wetlands, sedimentation as a result of upstream farming, runoff of agrochemicals, discharge of industrial waste, water diversion, and flooding associated with the building of dykes and canals. If sedimentation gets so high that mangroves cannot capture and stabilize it, outlying coral reefs are put at risk. Fishing, poaching, and commercial hunting directly threaten wildlife. The frequency of tropical storms and hurricanes may be increasing as well because of global climate change.
For more information on this ecoregion, go to the World Wildlife Fund Scientific Report.All text by World Wildlife Fund © 2001